U.S. immigration law allows foreign residents with children to make a new life in the U.S. However, a blended family can also be an immigrant family. A blended family forms when someone marries a wife or husband with children from a previous relationship.
Stepchild immigration may not be as hard as you think. If you are a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident with a stepchild, you may benefit from knowing how to help your stepchild attain legal status in the United States.
When to marry a birth parent
The USCIS explains that the timing of your marriage to the birth parent of your stepchild is important. You can petition for the immigration of your stepchild if you married the birth parent before the stepchild turned 18 years old. To make your petition, you must file a Form I-130.
In the event your stepchild is over 18, your stepchild will fall under a family preference category under immigration law. While you may help an adult or married stepchild acquire a green card, the process could take a few years to complete.
Adoption is not necessary
You may believe that you should adopt your stepchild to help him or her gain entry to the U.S. In truth, you do not have to adopt your stepchild to make an immigration petition. Additionally, a stepchild adoption does not change the immigration status of your stepchild.
However, stepchild adoption could help your stepchild acquire citizenship at some point. Under U.S. law, an adopted child of a U.S. citizen may be eligible to attain citizenship through the citizenship status of the parent. So there are a variety of options available to help those you care for become U.S. residents.